NoVo in the Media

Letter from Pamela Shifman in The New York Times

To the Editor:

Female Inmates’ Suit Says Sex Abuse Is Persistent in State Prisons” (news article, Feb. 26) might also have mentioned the violent pathway that leads so many women to prison. The overwhelming majority of incarcerated women are survivors of domestic violence. Three-quarters have histories of severe physical abuse by an intimate partner during adulthood, and 82 percent suffered serious physical or sexual abuse as children.

That this violence continues in prison, under the authority of the state, adds a particularly cruel and unjust chapter to lives that already contain long histories of trauma and abuse. While addressing abuse in our women’s prisons is essential, it’s only half the solution. We also need to address the deeply entrenched violence and inequality that send so many women there in the first place.


New York

The writer is executive director of the NoVo Foundation, whose goals include ending violence against girls and women.